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There is a common saying that goes, “It’s not a matter of life or death.”
When I use the phrase it’s often a form of justification toward a future decision. In other words, I’m saying, “This choice really isn’t that big of a deal.”
While recently reading Deuteronomy, however, I was struck by the fact that this passage is telling me different. Whether I want to accept the truth or not, this passage states that I have choices to make, perhaps every day, where I am ultimately choosing between life and death.
Death: When I act out of anger, or harbored hatred. When I ignore, or dismiss the needs of others. When I protect, or cover up the real truth. When I rack up financial debt, or gluttonous behavior that compromises my health.
Life: When I choose the thing that will cost me, but I know it’s the right thing to do. When I take time to listen to another, nurture, support, and speak the truth in love. When I stick to my goals, and treat my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
As I face a new day, can I think about the choices that may come my way-decisions that will either give life, or take it away?
What, for me, are competing gods in my life that this passage talks about? What gods am I tempted to bow down to and serve? The gods that will ultimately take me away from the path of life?
It’s critical to remind myself that the One True God is not indifferent to my decisions. He does not say, “Do what you’d like. It’s not a matter of life or death. Do whatever.”
My God appeals to me to choose life!
How utterly stunning to consider that I can cooperate in the life giving work of God!
Is that what I’ll choose? If honest, often times the temptation toward self serving desires is strong. I will need help, Father! May I recognize Your help when it comes. Cause me to understand in the moment that the seemingly small decision before me is actually a matter of life and death. May I choose life!
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. ~Deuteronomy 30:15-20